Two years after work began, WhatsApp is preparing to implement interoperability with other encrypted messaging applications, in accordance with the European Digital Markets Act (DMA).
The European Union has decided to crack down on the abuse of a dominant position in the technology sector. Last September, it published a list of companies, including Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), that will now be subject to stricter rules. The objective is to ensure fair competition and protect consumers.
WhatsApp is therefore preparing to open the doors to its competitors. In any case, this is what the new European regulations on digital markets foresee. Within a month, Meta Messaging will have to reveal its plan to allow users to communicate with competing services such as Signal or Telegram.
Specifically, how will this happen?
The technical details still need to be clarified, but Dick Brouwer, director of engineering at WhatsApp, has already given some indications. He imagines a system where users can choose to import their conversations from other platforms to WhatsApp. This will allow them to centralize all their communications in a single application.
A separate section of WhatsApp conversations will be dedicated to messages from other messaging services. To send messages, WhatsApp will use the Signal encryption protocol, already used by Meta, Google Messages and Skype. To receive WhatsApp messages, other messaging services will need to connect to WhatsApp’s servers.
It remains to be seen whether this opening will really be beneficial for users. Some fear this will complicate the use of WhatsApp and fragment conversations. Others hope, on the contrary, that it will stimulate competition and offer users more options and features.
Regardless, WhatsApp’s opening up to its competitors is an important step in the evolution of the messaging landscape. We will have to wait and see how this new system will be implemented and how users will adopt it to measure its true impacts.